EMU Homepage

EMU Commons Renovation Includes Facilities for Theater, Digital Media Programs

Posted on June 24th, 2010

Students come to EMU from as far away as the West Coast to study digital photography.

Soon they will benefit from new state-of-the-art digital media lab space, classrooms and galleries, thanks to a recently funded renovation to EMU’s University Commons.

EMU VACA professor Steven Johnson with photography student
Associate professor Steven D. Johnson interacts with students in a digital media lab during class at EMU. EMU’s visual and communication arts major is one of the most popular programs offered. Students will soon benefit from updated state-of- the-art labs, part of a recently funded renovation of University Commons at EMU. Photo by Matt Gillis

EMU’s board of trustees, alumni and friends have "stepped up" to provide $2.41 million in cash and pledges for Phase II of the University Commons, reports Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement.

"It’s an amazing show of support in these uncertain economic times," he says.

Renovation highlights

The overall project includes renovation of the former gymnasium, built in 1957, into two upgraded theater performance spaces and classrooms. This includes a new Mainstage Theater as well as the Lee Eshleman Studio Theater, named in honor of the late artist and actor who was a 1986 graduate.

The popular student coffee house, Common Grounds, will also be expanded in the renovation.

EMU theater production of Iolanthe
More than 40 students were involved in the spring 2010 mainstage theater production of IOLANTHE by Gilbert & Sullivan and directed by Heidi Winters Vogel, associate professor of theater. EMU’s theater department attracts students from across the university to participate in its high quality productions. Coupling updated facilities and technology to the energy of students and faculty will enhance learning and artistic possibilities at EMU. Photo by Jon Styer

New studio art gallery

A new student art gallery will be named in honor of Margaret Martin Gehman, retired art faculty member.

Gehman taught art and physical education at EMU from 1944 until her retirement in 1987. She serves regularly as a volunteer on campus and with other local organizations and has been a long-time strong financial supporter of the university.

She was the first recipient of the eponymous "EMU Philanthropist of the Year" award from the university in 2005.

Digital media labs key to program

"EMU offers an excellent digital media program taught by faculty who are experts in the field and is one of the few Christian colleges to offer a full photography major," notes Steven D. Johnson, associate professor of visual and communication arts.

"With increased student demand for our programs, these upgraded labs will advance our goal of teaching students to communicate effectively, passionately and ethically in an increasingly diverse society."

The advanced media lab will be named in memory of former EMU trustee and long-time supporter, Kenneth A. Longacre.

Theater core to campus life

EMU’s theater department attracts students from across the university to participate in its high quality productions. Students are regularly recognized at the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival for their achievements.

Coupling updated facilities and technology to the energy of students and faculty will enhance learning and artistic possibilities at EMU.

"EMU theater faculty, staff and students have been making amazing art happen in primitive conditions," states Heidi Winters Vogel, theater department chair.

"I am so excited to see what we can do with performance and production spaces that are designed for theater. Watch for it!"

Upcoming theater events in renovated spaces

The first theatrical production in the renovated Main Stage Theater is scheduled for March 2011.

The Lee Eshleman Studio Theater, named in honor of the late artist and actor who was a 1986 graduate, will house key theater events that occur throughout the year like:

  • Gonzo Theate, a student-run improv troupe that performs throughout the academic year
  • student-directed plays like Anon(ymous)

More info

Renovations began in early May, with completion anticipated in November.

Comments are closed.